Copeland by-election candidates support RCM calls for the retention of consultant-led maternity unit at Whitehaven’

By RCM on 21 February 2017 Maternity Services Midwives Safety Politics

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has garnered support for the retention of consultant led maternity services at West Cumberland Hospital (WCH) in Whitehaven from across the political spectrum ahead of the Copeland by-election next week.

The RCM for sometime now has been campaigning for the existing consultant led maternity services to remain at Whitehaven based on the significant distance to Cumberland Infirmary and the risks of such a lengthy journey time.

Commenting, Sean O’ Sullivan Head of Policy and Public Affairs at the RCM says; “The RCM has publically shared its concerns about the proposals for the future of maternity services in West Cumbria. Our concerns are shared not only with midwives and other frontline staff at Whitehaven, but by members of the public and now local politicians have voiced their opposition to the proposed removal of existing services at Whitehaven.

Whilst the RCM have supported the replacement of some consultant-led units with freestanding midwifery units elsewhere in England, we do not believe this would be appropriate for Whitehaven.

We believe that the distance between the area currently served by WCH and the Cumberland Infirmary, to where women would have to travel to access consultant-led care, is too great and the existing road link is simply not good enough.

The RCM has analysed the proposals, listened to the views and opinions of our members and responded the consultation document and now has local cross party support for our calls for the retention of existing services at Whitehaven.”

Labour candidate for Copeland Gillian Troughton told us that protecting consultant services at the West Cumberland Hospital (WCH) is “at the front and centre” of her campaign, and that she has been “actively campaigning against the plans since they were proposed.” And she reassured us that she is “fully behind the RCM’s call” to keep the full range of maternity services available at WCH, highlighting what would be a 40-mile ambulance journey on poor roads for some women if consultant services are withdrawn.

                                                                                                                 Gillian Troughton, Labour candidate


“I support the RCM's call to retain consultant-led obstetric services in Whitehaven,” was the clear statement from Liberal Democrat candidate Rebecca Hanson. The Lib Dem has also shared her support on social media for the RCM’s call and provided extensive evidence of having campaigned on the issue.

                                                                                                          Rebecca Hanson, Liberal Democrat Candidate


With reference to West Cumberland Hospital, Conservative candidate Trudy Harrison said, “I know how important our local NHS services are – I was born there, and all four of my daughters were too.” She said that she opposed the removal of consultant-led maternity services in Whitehaven and that she had spoken to the health minister about local concerns. She added, “if I am elected then I’ll use my experience of saving vital local services at my local surgery and at Captain Shaw’s in Bootle to make our voice heard on this issue and make the most of Moorside to secure the future of our local services.”

                                                                                                                     Trudy Harrison, Conservative Candidate


UKIP candidate for Copeland Fiona Mills also backed the retention of consultant-led maternity services at Whitehaven. She laid the blame for cutbacks on wasteful spending on “PFI, outsourcing, management reorganisations and the development of the internal market with all its associated bureaucracy”, as well as cuts to doctors’ training places.


                                                                                                                                     Fiona Mills, UKIP Candidate


To contact the RCM Press Office call 020 7312 3456 or email [email protected].


The RCM is the only trade union and professional association dedicated to serving midwifery and the whole midwifery team. We provide workplace advice and support, professional and clinical guidance and information, and learning opportunities with our broad range of events, conferences and online resources. For more information visit the RCM website at


Notes to editors